Although having an interview for a US university is not normally a requirement, it is greatly encouraged as it is an ideal opportunity to enhance your application. US university interviews are often conducted by alumni of the university across the world. This means that for some students, there may not be an interviewer nearby, and that is ok – the university will know and understand that if you requested an interview but they cannot assign you an interviewer, that is not your fault. Being in London or close by to a big city means that there are often interviewers nearby so you should take advantage of having an interview. In this guide, you can find out more about the format of US interviews and what you can do to prepare.
How do you Request an Interview with a University?
Each university has their own way of allowing applicants to sign up for or request an interview, so it is your responsibility to check with each institution. Here are some of the different interview request methods that universities use:
- Opt-in field on application forms
- Automatically contact all applicants once they receive your application
- Explicitly state or contact them or fill out another web form to request interview
What is the Format of US University Interviews?
British university interviews are normally strictly academic and a test of your subject knowledge; they are typically conducted by a professor or faculty member. However, American interviews focus on subjective parts of your application, like your character, personality, general academic and extracurricular interests, and your interest in the university.
US university interviews are typically conducted by an alumnus, or even an Admissions Officer. They may take place in person if you live near a big city or an area with a large concentration of alumni, or over the phone or on a video call.
Be prepared that interviews could take place in the alum’s office, a coffee shop, their home or another informal location. Alternatively, one of the admissions staff may be planning a trip to the UK for a recruitment event, such as a college fair or information session, and might be available to interview you during their stay.
How to Prepare for a US University Interview
It is important to be as prepared as you can be for your interview. Here are some top tips:
Preparation and Practice:
- Practice for your interview beforehand, and ask a family member, friend, teacher, advisor or mentor to conduct a mock interview with you, if possible.
- At the very least, think of what questions you may be asked and think in advance what your responses would be. Remember the Interviewer will only know your name and school. They will not have seen your application.
What Questions are asked in US University Interviews?
Whilst every university will take their own approach to interviewing, there are common themes that crop here. Here is a list of example US university interview questions to practice with:
- Why do you want to study in the United States?
- Tell me about your family.
- Why is this university a good fit?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
- What is your proudest achievement?
- What is the best book you have read recently and why?
- What is the most pressing issue society faces today? And the most pressing foreign policy issue?
- What do you want to study and why?
- What is your current school like?
- What do you like to do outside the classroom?
- How would you like to make an impact on campus?
- Are you applying to university in the UK? (work on a diplomatic response)
- If you were to have dinner with a famous person, who would it be and why?
- If you were a fly on the wall at an important event, what would it be?
- What do you want to do with this degree/what do you want to do after college?
You should also prepare to ask the interviewer some questions. Remember, they loved their experience at their university so much they are willing to volunteer as an interviewer! Some examples of generic questions include:
- What did you study?
- What surprised you most about the university?
- If there was one thing I must do if I am accepted and attend, what would it be?
- What were you favourite classes, professors, and activities?
Practical Tips to Ensure your US University Interview is a Success
- Arrive early. If the interview is in an office, there may be security which takes time.
- If you have the interviewer’s email, send them an email to let them know you have arrived and where they can find you in the venue.
What to Order:
- Buy your own drink – we suggest water or tea!
- Do not order any food (it will be distracting for you and the interviewer).
What to Wear
- Wear your school uniform or dress business casual (ironed trousers/skirt and shirt, blazer, NO jeans & trainers).
What to Expect:
- Maintain eye contact and speak slowly (not too slow but clearly enough to be understood)
- Remember this conversation is actually an interview (don’t be fooled by the interviewer’s friendliness!)
o Ask appropriate questions
o Answer questions appropriately, try not to tell jokes.
o Be careful about sensitive topics
o Mention connections to the U.S. (such as family or a U.S. passport or extended time spent there), as this indicates that you are serious about your application and that you are more likely to attend if accepted.
- If you do google your interviewer, please don’t mention that you did.
- Stop & think before answering.
- Keep it positive!
Post-Interview – What to do afterwards:
- Send a ‘Thank You’ email, and a handwritten note. Include what you enjoyed about meeting them, i.e. what you learned about the school that you didn’t know before.
Support from A-List Education
Best of luck! This is the culmination of your application and no doubt many months of hard work. Well done for getting this far and we hope you receive the acceptances you hoped for. To simplify your journey to US higher education, reach out to our team today by filling out the enquiry form below, or email email@example.com.
In 2023, our students were awarded 288 acceptances at 100 institutions globally, with 81 in the US alone. Including 41 Ivy League acceptances, with all eight Ivies represented, as well as acceptances at MIT and Stanford. What an achievement!